Jane Lynch rules a surprisingly non-boring broadcast, with big wins by "Modern Family" and unexpected losses
“A lot of people are very curious why I’m a lesbian … Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of ‘Entourage.’” — Jane Lynch
That was the best line of the 2011 Emmy broadcast on Fox — a surprisingly non-boring awards show (during the second half anyway) that saw “Modern Family” dominating the comedy categories, “Mad Men” and “Mildred Pierce” getting their well-dressed derrieres handed to them in the drama and movie/miniseries categories, and outgoing “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen sporting what looked like a wig made of wolverine hair, and wishing the best of luck to his old co-workers in remarks that were so robotic that I kept anticipating a punch line that never came. (Earlier this year, Sheen was a crack-addled, woman-abusing pariah who blasted his boss Chuck Lorre as a “maggot”and a “nut-less sociopath” and called former costar Jon Cryer “a turncoat, a traitor and a troll”; now he’s in the express lane to redemption and prepping another sitcom. Ah, Hollywood.)
The “Modern Family” steamroller (best comedy series, writing, direction, supporting actress Julie Bowen, and supporting actor Ty Burrell) would have been tedious and depressing if the show weren’t so good. Its run was broken by awards for “Big Bang Theory” (repeat winner Jim Parsons) and “Mike and Molly” (Melissa McCarthy). Parsons beat outgoing “The Office” star Steve Carell, who hadn’t won an Emmy yet and should have been a shoo-in. In an awkward but charming show of solidarity, the six best actress nominees went up onstage together, and the winner was handed a tiara and a bouquet of roses along with her statuette.
“I don’t know what I’m gonna talk about in therapy next week now,” said Bowen, accepting Emmy as best supporting actress in a comedy while rocking a dress slit nearly to the navel. Burrell reflected on his relationship with his father, who died before he had a chance to see his son perform: “If he were here tonight, I think he would say, ‘But why the makeup?’”
Lynch made light of the sitcom’s sweep late in the program, telling viewers, “Welcome back to the ‘Modern Family’ awards. We’ve decided to throw them into the drama category to see what happens.”
“Mad Men” and “Mildred Pierce,” the big dogs of the drama and movie/miniseries categories, came perilously close to going home empty-handed.
As the evening wore on, it became clear that Matthew Weiner’s AMC series about a swank 1960s advertising agency was not going to sweep the awards as some had predicted. Instead, the just-concluded “Friday Nights Lights” got a bit of love, taking home Emmys for best writing in a dramatic series (by showrunner Jason Katims) and best lead actor (for Kyle Chandler, beating out Jon Hamm, who has now gone win-less for four straight seasons). Accepting his award, Katims quoted the series’ slogan “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.” The show’s only previous Emmy was for casting, in 2007.
Margo Martindale won a deserved Emmy as best supporting actress in a drama for her performance as Mags Bennett, the redneck Mama Corleone on FX’s crime drama “Justified.” Martin Scorsese won an Emmy for dramatic series directing, for helming the opening episode of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” the most expensive pilot in the cable channel’s history. Julianna Marguilies won best actress in a drama for CBS’ “The Good Wife” — her first Emmy win since 1995, when she took home a best supporting actress statuette for playing nurse Carol Hathaway on NBC’s “ER.”
HBO’s miniseries “Mildred Pierce” went into the ceremony seeming a likely candidate for a sweep; even though the series got mixed reviews from critics, it was a ratings success, and the pay cable network has had a near-lock on the miniseries and movie category for the last 15 years. Instead, the PBS and BBC production “Downton Abbey” snuck in for several major upsets, including best miniseries/movie, best writing, best directing, and best actress (no-show Maggie Smith, whose award was accepted, somewhat surreally, by the cast of “Entourage”). Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce won best actress and supporting actor, respectively. It was a measure of the evening’s genial volatility that by by the time “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner got up onstage with his co-producers and cast to accept the best drama award, it seemed like an underdog-makes-good moment.
The coolest winner by far was Peter Dinklage, who is often cast in comic roles but projects a George Clooney-like, nothing-to-prove glamour in person. The “Game of Thrones” star thanked his wife and his dogsitter and exclaimed, “Wow, I followed Martin Scorsese!” It was the only major award for “Game of Thrones,” a critical and popular success that already seems doomed — like “Star Trek,” ”Battlestar Galactica,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and other great fantasy and sci-fi series before it — to be dismissed by its own industry as “Not bad for a genre show.” (Only ABC’s “Lost” managed to break this curse.)
Still, it was hard to argue that any of the awards were completely undeserved. It was an altogether strong crop of winners. And the ceremony itself was briskly paced, blessedly free of the saggy midsection that usually drags down televised awards shows. The musical components (provided mostly by the “Emmytones” — Wilmer Valderrama, Jane Lynch, Joel McHale, Kate Flannery and Taraji P. Henson) were creatively iffy but mostly enjoyable, and there was one brilliant musical number two-thirds of the way through (a medley of songs from “Saturday Night Live,” featuring Lonely Island, Michael Bolton and Akon) that felt like a Dada-esque spoof of every musical number on any awards show since the beginning of time. Co-presenters Rob Lowe and “Modern Family” costar Sofía Vergara — who plays the trophy wife of Ed O’Neill — were the show’s most unnervingly handsome couple. (“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, whose program won two Emmys, joked, “If the world does need to repopulate at some point, the announcing team of Sofia Vergara and Rob Lowe would make nice children.”)
Lynch was a capable and appealing host. She even managed to survive a clever but overlong videotaped musical opening that found her careening through rooms in an apartment building that was supposed to represent TV itself. Various series stars took part in confessions modeled on NBC’s “The Office,” and Leonard Nimoy played a sort of uber-network president — a last-minute replacement for “30 Rock” star Alec Baldwin, who quit after the Fox network cut a joke about its owner, Rupert Murdoch, and the British tabloid phone-hacking scandal.
Kudos to “Modern Family” creator Steve Levitan, who somehow managed to make the sitcom’s 4,328th win (for best comedy) charming even though it came at the end of a long night that it had completely owned. Levitan even managed to acknowledge one of the show’s groundbreaking aspects — its refreshingly laid-back, Big Tent affection toward interracial and same-sex couples — without coming off as self-serving.
Levitan said that during shooting, gay couples would approach him and say, “You’re not just making people laugh, you’re making them more tolerant.” Then Levitan added, “We are showing the world that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a loving, committed relationship between an old man and a hot young woman. And looking around this room tonight, I see many of you agree!”
More Related Stories
- Stop what you're doing and go watch "Borgen"
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- New York chef serves up eight-course meal around "Arrested Development" jokes
- HLN: Jodi Arias "pleading for her life" got us a ratings win!
- Michael Ian Black on Maron feud: He "considered me a poseur"
- Chekhov's story mirrors Russia's own
- Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina denied parole
- Joe Francis apologizes for calling jury "retarded"
- Mary Karr: David Foster Wallace and I kept each other alive
- Morgan Freeman sleeps during televised interview
- J.J. Abrams reveals deleted shower scene with Benedict Cumberbatch
- Is the anti-gay backlash on?
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- Cannes: Ryan Gosling's new movie draws the boo-birds
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- Juror responds to Joe Francis' insults with thoughtful email
- New track from the Lonely Island features Solange Knowles, semicolons
- Amazon introduces fan fiction publishing platform
- Naomi Watts, "Argo," "Wonderstone" among bizarre Teen Choice Awards nominees
- Imprisoned Pussy Riot member declares hunger strike
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11